When I purchased my home three years ago, I inherited a lawn that was full of issues such as persistent crabgrass, creeping charlie and a multitude of dandelions overflowing from the next door neighbors failure to even mow his lawn more than twice per season. (I hate renters, but that is another article.) I spend a small fortune each year putting down seed and fertilizer to try to get the front and back yards to look somewhat pleasant, but I always feel like I am behind the eight ball.
So this year, I decided to hire TruGreen to aerate, seed and fertilize my lawn. I had seen my neighbor's success with lawn care services. His looks like the 18th hole at pebble beach. Mine aspires to be the course in Caddy Shack at the end of the movie after all of the explosions. Unfortunately, I did not ask my neighbor which service he used before contacting TruGreen.
Service was flaky from the start. I paid the $536 for the season in advance so that I could get the 7% discount. I was being positive. I figured I had the money at the time, and how often do you see a yard with a TruGreen sign in it that looks like crap? This cost included the $220 for seeding and aeration which was supposed to be done at the beginning of the season. The seed would be allowed to germinate and then they would come back to begin treatment for all of the weeds. Instead, they made their initial visit and sprayed my yard with an herbicide. This chemical cocktail would put down a barrier that would last for eight weeks and prevent anything from germinating.
I called to get clarification on what was done to my yard. I did not understand how they could put down a long duration herbicide when they were supposed to aerate and seed the following week. Their response was that they would aerate and seed in the fall before the first snowfall. The goal was to get the yard to look good ths year. Not do everything in my power to keep it looking the same and worry about it again (along with another $536) next year. After talking to Kelly, they stated that the aeration would break the herbicide barrier and allow the grass seed to germinate. If it did not work, they would come back and do it again in the fall for free.
About a week passed and I recieved a voice mail from the "lawn care professional" who stated that he could not aerate my lawn because there was wood piled on the side of the house blocking the gate. Granted. There was wood on the side of the house, but I open that same gate every week to get my lawnmower from the shed to the front yard. I have no problems whatsoever. And the gate if fully opened is the entire depth of the side yard which is wide enough to drive a car through. I was able to open it at least as far as a standard chain link gate. I called to ask exactly how wide they needed this opening. They scheduled to return the next day and I spent the evening moving everything from the side yard to the back porch.
They did come to seed and aerate. But over a month later, not one seed has germinated. The only new seed that took is where my dog dug a 6 inch pit in the open dirt to lay down in and I planted seed to try to fill it in. She did a better job aertating and seeding in 5 minutes than they have done all season.
Today was the final straw. Their automated system called over the weekend to ensure that today would be a good day for them to do the second treatment with fertilizer. I accepted and ensured that the back gate was unlocked and unobstructed. I had since installed motion detecting surveillance cameras in various locations on the property. These cameras email me a five second video any time they detect movement. They also record continually and allow me to view them from any location in the world with an internet connection.
I recieved the first alert of motion at 7:56 this morning. It was the truck pulling up to do the scheduled lawncare. I immediately logged into the camera so that I could watch everything rather than wait on emails showing me the progression. The driver got out of the vehicle at 8:02 and planted a sign in my yard and began to use a spreader on the front lawn. At 8:08 after completing the front yard, he drove away. He never went to the back yard.
Now I am not certain that he does not plan to come back later in the day to do the back yard. But this just does not make sense. Why waste the gas? Was he out of fertilizer? Wouldn't he have been prepared before starting his work day to ensure he had the materials necessary? So, I am fairly certain he thought he would be able to get away without touching the back as long as the neighbors saw him get the front. After all, their sign is out in the front yard advertising their services. When I get home, I will modifying to make it larger and direct people to this blog.
So the summary of the story is this. You do not get what you pay for with TruGreen. They will overcharge you for seeding and aeration and put down the minimal amount of seed possible if they even do it at all. They will not do a thorough job if they think nobody is watching and will just sit back and rake in the hundreds of dollars from each homeowner for work that could be done with materials from Home Depot for less than $100. Save your money. When you see their flyers, throw them away. Run as fast as you can to your nearest lawn and garden center and get the free advice from them on how to care for your lawn yourself.